Sunday, June 24, 2007

The iPhone is going to change my world

No, I haven't changed my mind. I believe the first iteration of the iPhone is going to be for a niche. However, it is going to be a niche with a bang. The next three months will be iPhone mania. The first wave of buyer is going to be strong and iPhones will fly off the shelves. There is a cult around Apple products. They never gave up believing. They feel different. They are going to buy it at $600 + taxes, plus a $50/month voice+data plan (my prediction ). [update on June 26th: I missed by a bit, it is $59.99...]

Whatever happens next, I do not care. The iPhone has already changed the mobile world forever. More will happen from now to the end of the year. There is no way back.

Why? Because a carrier (at&t) completely gave up to a device manufacturer (Apple), opening up its entire network. This will force other carriers to compete ("my friend can do it with the iPhone on at&t, why can't I do the same with you?"). The wall garden is going to collapse quickly. Data plans will emerge to compete, because no carrier wants to give up its customers to at&t and the iPhone (the same is valid for Europe and Asia, they just have few months to prepare themselves).

If you are a carrier, what can you do? Offer services. Go beyond voice and SMS. Even with the network open, you still control your users. But you have to offer them a reason to stay with you. Give your consumers push email from wherever they have email, give them IM, give them content. Do not let device manufacturers and portals eat in your plate. React, embrace and remain relevant. Do not let them transform you into a dumb pipe. You still have time (not too much, though...).

The iPhone is the best damn thing that ever happened to mobile.

Look at portals... Google and Yahoo have been turning up the mobile volume by three notches. Yahoo is all about mobile. There is even a big board on 101 about Yahoo Mobile (that's THE sign of a turning point ;-)

Look at Microsoft... They just launched MSN for mobile, a week ago. "We firmly believe there is an inflection point here," said Phil Holden, Microsoft's director of mobile Web services. "There's a new battle, a new frontline developing on the mobile phone."

Look at device manufacturers. Nokia and Sony Ericsson brands are as strong as they ever been. They have a phenomenal opportunity to come back and play the Apple game. They are putting more and more open standards on devices. Nokia is even putting web servers on a phone (and it is open source). Imagine the chances of that happening with a wall garden...

June 29th is the turning point for the mobile market, the one we have waited for years. The fun starts now.